For the first time in the series, a new “inventory system” was added, granting the player access to a machine gun, a shotgun, and a grenade launcher at all times throughout of the game.
The addition of these special weapons changed the dynamic of the game drastically.
Selecting weapons was done by pulling the trigger while in cover, so there was very little pressure to select weapons quickly, however, by giving the player options on how they wished to approach every gun fight, it slowed down the pace of the game somewhat.
It should be noted that the “Time” aspect of the 3rd Time Crisis, is almost entirely a non-factor at this point in the series.
In addition to this, because the expectation was that the player would be using these powerful new weapons throughout the game, the difficulty level was padded in the form of granting several enemies a lifebar system as opposed to the “one shot, one kill” dynamic of the previous games.
I use the term “padded,” because the whole lifebar system felt tacked on and inorganic.
In prior games in the series, one shot was usually enough to kill virtually any enemy in the game.
Some bosses in Time Crisis 2 would take several shots to stun, but even then, none of them had a fatty lifebar floating over their head to tell you when they were going to flinch.
Despite the lifebars hanging over most enemies’ heads in Time Crisis 3, for the most part they didn’t flinch when being shot, which resulted in many instances where enemies would land hits on the player while eating entire clips in the face.
Strangely enough, despite the vast assortment of enemies with lifebars in Time Crisis 3, the overall difficulty level is decidedly lower than Time Crisis 1 or 2.
Once again, I attribute this fact to the new weapons.
In short, giving the player a machine gun that never has to be reloaded is always a bad idea in a rail shooter.
Because the core gamplay, no matter how frenetic or Paul Greengrass-ed the fuck out, consists of nothing more than spotting enemies and pointing your gun at them.
Do you realize how easy that is when all you have to do is wave the gun across the screen few times to kill everything at once?
Well I’ll tell you: Pretty fuckin’ easy.
Difficulty level aside, Time Crisis 3 was a solid entry in the series.
The color palette was once again made even more vibrant than in the previous game, giving the game a cartoonish, almost anime-like aesthetic.
In fact, many of the character designs in the game reflect this trend, with outrageous, and often; flat-out stupid hairstyles and clothing being the norm for most of the cast.
Case in point:
Sadly, not even Wild Dog was able to escape the aesthetic shift, as his appearance in the game was marred not only by the inclusion of a fruity sidekick/son(?) named Wild Fang, as well as his least pimp, and by far worst “look” in franchise history.
Interestingly enough however, one thing Time Crisis 3 did with just the right amount of flair, was it’s story.
Unlike the majority of the cutscenes in the previous 2 games, Time Crisis 3 included a great deal of action in most of it’s story sequences.
In addition to this, the player characters, Alan and Wesley, were a helluva’ lot more defined than any of the previous ones, with a goofy sort of “buddy cop” dynamic being played up between the two.
Although at no point is it ever made clear that “No one can beat them.”
The story involves a fictional Mediterranean nation called Lukano, which is being invaded by the Zagorias Federation.
The head of the Zagorias Federation, Giorgio Zott, intends to use the location of Lukano to serve as a launch pad for tactical nuclear missiles.
Whoever the fuck named “Giorgio Zott” deserves to get smacked upside their head, ’cause that is just about the goofiest and least threatening last name I’ve heard in a while.
Anyway, international badasses that they are, VSSE dispatches 2 agents, Alan Dunaway and Wesley Lambert, to handle the entire conflict CONTRA style.
After a bloodsoaked beach landing, and a romp along the coast, our heroes find themselves under fire from a giant ass gunship.
Fortunately, the pair happen upon a foxy young member of the Lukano Liberation Army, named Alicia Winston, who just happens to have the world’s fastest and most well-armored jeep in the world.
While riding the jeep, our heroes battle the games’ first boss as he bears down on them with his gunship.
Despite the impressive visage of taking on a big ass plane while riding a jeep, the battle is really pretty straightforward once you’ve taken out the plane’s defenses and forced the flame-haired brute to fight you out on the loading ramp.
Other than the occasional lateral juke every now and again, the guy really just stands there and eats whatever you throw at him.
Oh yeah, and at one point he pulls a 10 foot long Vulcan out, but even so, he’s cake.
Long story short, he dies, the plane goes up in flames, everybody macarena.
With that, Alicia begins to guide our heroes through Lukano and towards the tactical nukes.
Unfortunately, a fuck ton of enemies show up, forcing Alan and Wesley to split off from Alicia and fight their way through a marketplace.
This was one of my favorite parts of the game, largely because of the music and the cute little motorcycle battle towards the end.
Eventually, our heroes make it through the town and reunite with Alicia, hitching a ride on a train while they’re at it.
While riding the train, a foppish, clawed ninja-like character, similar to Moz from Time Crisis 1, attacks them, serving as the stage boss.
The character has no dialogue, but unlike Moz, he actually puts up a decent fight.
Oh yeah, and he doesn’t take 3 shots to kill either.
The boss moves about quickly, often forcing the player to take their shots at times when he is just likely to hit you as the other way around.
To add to the excitement of things, the train the players are on is progressively falling into a pit during the fight, causing your perspective to be obscured for most of the fight.
Despite the bosses arsenal of grenades and claw slashes, he too ends up kicking the bucket like all those that came before him.
Curiously enough though, there is no explosion following his death.
Sometime during the 3rd and final stage, Wild Dog, and his new apprentice, Wild Fang, show up for their obligatory showdown with our heroes.
This time around, Wild Dog is looking a little worse for wear, with his hair long and unkempt, and beginning to gray at that.
Despite this, Mr. Dog demonstrates further improvements in his arsenal, fielding a flamethrower, a rocket launcher and a sword-like blade attached to the machine gun arm he had last time around.
Wild Fang is somewhat of a mystery to me, as despite his armaments consisting of little more than a Mauser pistol or two, his main method of attack involves him kicking objects at you.
By “objects” of course, I mean things like forklifts and I-bars.
You know, standard stuff.
It’s never explicitly stated, however I believe one can assume that Mr. Fang has had some sort of bodily enhancements.
Although if BUFF Bryant is any indication of what a “strong” human being is capable of in the Time Crisis universe, then I could be wrong.
Anyway, the Wild Pair attack in tandem, offering up an exhilarating and diverse challenge that is definitely a step up in difficulty from Wild Dog’s appearance in Time Crisis 2.
However Wild Dog looks like shit, so the game loses brownie points for that.
Eventually, the Wild Pair is defeated, with Wild Dog going about his normal routine of, you guessed, blowing himself up.
After heated gun battles against ninjas, machine gun toting hooligans, and even the occasional submersible or two, it isn’t long before our heroes find themselves at odds with Mr. Giorgio Zott himself.
Like, with a fucking sword, up close and personal.
Zott begins the fight with a submachine in one hand and a sword in the other.
He is exceedingly accurate with both, and even sees fit to borrow Johnny Cage’s shadow kick from time to time.
During the fight, the arena is constantly being flooded with all manner of enemies, ramping up the difficulty level to an extent.
For the final phase of the battle, Zott switches out his weapons in favor of a pair of 4 tubed rocket launchers.
Despite the imposing nature of a man firing more rockets than any human probably should, Zott goes down shortly thereafter, proving be a gaudy and colorful, but otherwise harmless final boss.
Also, he doesn’t explode.
Even as Zott bites the big one however, the missiles he had set up earlier suddenly spring to life and begin to launch!
Fortunately, Alan and Wesley have the power of “dynamic cutscene intervention,” which the put into to play just in time stop the rockets and rob the player of any measure of participation in the games’ final crisis of time.
Remember how I said the cutscenes were flashier this time around?
Well, this is just about the only case wherein I felt this was a bad thing.
That being said, thanks to the power of cool cutscenes, Alan and Wesley get to walk away from a massive explosion, whereupon they are greeted by Alicia.
High-fives, fist-pumping, and three-way fucking ensue.
As a supplement to the main story mode, the console port of Time Crisis 3 includes a series of single player side missions wherein the player assumes the role of Alicia as she assists the VSSE agents and attempts to find her imprisoned brother.
Alicia’s missions include a new leveling system wherein her weapons start out in a downgraded state, only to steadily increase in power with repeated use.
By the end of the game, her weapons display power and rates of fire well in excess of their capabilities in the main story mode.
In addition to this, Alicia also makes use a sniper rifle, which is cleverly implemented into the gameplay by way of a zoom-in button in place of normal “duck” button.
Perhaps the most impressive use of the sniper rifle in Alicia’s game is it’s use during a pivotal point in the main storyline wherein Alicia saves her brother from Giorgio Zott by shooting a pistol out of his hand.
After saving Alicia’s brother, whole experience culminates with a fast-paced battle against Jake Hernandez, a traitor to the Lukano Liberation Army.
The battle is fought under a strict time limit, and is perhaps the most difficult boss battle in the entire game.
In all, Alicia’s missions are intensely varied and excellent throughout, with many of the mission adopting Crisis Mission parameters, such as extremely limited ammo, time, and even the occasional innocent civilian from time to time.
That’s not to say that Time Crisis 3 doesn’t include Crisis Missions of it’s own, however their largely the same as the previous game, so we’ll consider that covered from last time.
Aside from it’s exceptionally colorful and action movie-esque plot, another highlight to Time Crisis 3 was it’s soundtrack.
In short, the soundtrack of Time Crisis 3 is excellent, regardless of it’s connection to the Time Crisis series.
Time Crisis 1′s soundtrack consisted of only a minute or two of of actual composition, with most of it’s running time being made up of variations of the same core theme.
Time Crisis 2′s soundtrack was greatly expanded from the first, however the instrumentation was weaker and not as engaging as the first.
Time Crisis 3 however, has a very robust and exhilarating soundtrack, that while bearing very little resemblance, if any, to the previous entries in the series, definitely stands out as perhaps the best of all Time Crisis games.
My favorite track, by far, was the Stage 2-1 music:
A close second was the first bosses theme:
Sadly, Wild Dog’s theme is once again a step down from it’s original debut, however, given his severely demoted standing among the other villains in the game, it’s entirely appropriate.
Despite Time Crisis 3′s relative lack of difficulty, and borderline childish aesthetic, it stands as a worthy successor to the series, if not a dramatically different one.
Check back for a possible Part IV!